Helping Newcomers To Be WaterSmart®

We recently received feedback from Courtney Domoney of the Lifesaving Society on how the SPRA Community Diversity Inclusion Grant helped develop New Canadian WaterSmart® Presentation materials that helped educate newcomers to Canada about water safety. 

Courtney writes:

"At the beginning of the summer of 2016, I met with Alissa Siggelkow, Academic Supervisor at the Regina Open Door Society (RODS). We discussed what we had for WaterSmart® Presentation materials, and what she thought would be the best options for creating new ones. I looked at other materials made by the Lifesaving Society in other provinces and complies some Water Smart tips to put into a brochure as well as a vocabulary for both pool and waterfronts. 

I distributed some of our existing materials as well as the draft vocabulary list. The addition of these handouts to the presentation was very well received by students and Regina Open Door Society staff. During and after the summer we organized a few photo shoots to gather some stock photos for use in the new brochures and handouts. We found a reputable online translation service and with input from Alissa we chose four languages; Filipino, Arabic, Afrikaans, and Farsi. As the printing costs ended up being more than anticipated we did not do a fifth language so we could print an adequate number of materials. 

Our estimate and goal for the New Canadian WaterSmart® Program for the summer of 2016 was 200 participants. Although we presented solely in conjunction with the Regina Open Door Society, we were able to exceed our goal with approximately 222 participants. We also increased the overall number of presentations from 2 presentations in 2015 to 9 presentations in 2016.  Participants ranged in age from children to adults as we presented in child, youth, and adult classes. We are expecting to exceed these numbers again this summer.

As someone who has been working at aquatic facilities in Regina for even just the last six years, the number of visible minorities that are participating in aquatic activities has increased. The City of Saskatoon also recently reported from a recreation survey that swimming was the number one recreational activity that people wished that they participated in more.

I also received this email on July 16, 2016 from Alissa Siggelkow, Academic Supervisor at the Regina Open Door Society:

Hi Courtney,

Thanks again for coming and doing the Water Smart Presentations!  We heard very positive feedback from staff and students.  I’ve cced Joan on this email and she would like to reschedule the 3:30-4:15 presentation for her class.  She will contact you directly to arrange a time and date that works for you both. 

Thanks again,


From doing these presentations and creating these resources over the past year I found there to be four stand out moments from all of the hours and presentations:

The first was when one of the instructors, whom I have met from previous presentations in previous years. We chatted after the presentation was over about how her class was doing, and she was very excited to have received the vocabulary list. She wants to prepare her students as much as possible to learn from our presentations, and our written materials are a great asset as it gives the participants time to understand the information.

The second standout moment was a story Alissa told me from when I initially contacted her to arrange the adult presentations. She was very new to her position of Academic Supervisor, so she had sat down with all of the instructors and asked, “What presentations do you guys think we should get for Summer?” One of the first answers was, “The people who came last year and talked about water safety, they were really good!” Not even two days later, I had emailed Alissa and asked to meet with her to speak about scheduling presentations in the upcoming summer so she was very excited to book us in.

The third one was when I was doing a presentation at one of the adult evening classes. Once I explained to them what drowning was and how people can die, I asked how many of the people in the room had either drowned (and been rescued) or had seen or knew of a close family of friend that had drowned. Almost every single hand in a class of 40 had their hand up. It was a very chilling and thought provoking moment where even I was reminded of the importance of drowning prevention and general aquatic information.

The fourth and last one that I wanted to share was when we were doing the youth presentation. There was such a high number of Arabic-speaking young adults that the Open Door Society actually had a translator come in and work with us for the afternoon to help. During the snack break I sat down with the translator and she told me, “This is all such good information for these youth to know. When I came here from Egypt many years ago, this information was not available to me and I wish that it was. None of this information is talked about from where we are from, but it is very important here in Canada.” We went onto discuss how things even so simple as what a lifeguard is and don’t go in the deep end if you cannot swim may be common knowledge to most Canadians, but not all of the information is intuitive. People who are new to Canada still need to be taught this information before they participate in a recreational activity."

This post was written and submitted to us by:

Courtney Domoney – Education Director

2224 Smith St.

Regina, SK S4P 2P4 

(306) 780-9255

If you would like to contribute to the SPRA Blog, please contact Christian Bates-Hardy, SPRA Communications Consultant, at or call 306-780-9268.